Pollard Conquers Five Flags Speedway
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Bubba Pollard may have been fast in the Mountain Dew Kickstart 125 presented by JRi Shocks Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, but winning the race was still a challenge.
Pollard led the majority of the 125-lap combination event between the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco and the Five Flags’ Buddy’s Home Furnishings Blizzard Series. He lost the lead following the lap 75 competition cautio,n after contact with Anderson Bowen. The two leaders slid up the track, and third-place John Hunter Nemechek capitalized to take the lead.
By lap 85, Pollard was back in front by using the high lane on a restart. The Senoia, Georgia native held off Nemechek and Donnie Wilson for his fourth career Southern Super Series victory and his eighth career Blizzard Series win.
After being collected in an incident while battling for the lead in the season-opening Southern Super Series race at South Alabama Speedway in March Pollard wasn’t going to let another victory slip from his grasp after the contact late in the race Friday night.
“He got under me clean and he should’ve passed me clean,” Pollard said of the incident with Bowen. “He had plenty of room. I’m not taking it anymore. We’ve torn up too many racecars leading too many races.”
Bowen chalked the incident up to hard racing.
“I was just racing hard and I feel like it was just a racing incident,” Bowen said.
“I got in there a little too hot, got loose and I chased it up the track. He was racing hard, trying to keep me pinched down like he’s supposed to do and I just slid up into him. I feel bad about it because that’s not really what you’re supposed to do, but we had a really good car all night. I just hate it for my guys that I messed up on that part.”
Pollard regained the lead shortly after losing it and held off Nemechek, who was in search of his first Southern Super Series victory, to the checkers.
“He’s a good racer and he had a good racecar,” Pollard said of his Nemechek. “I didn’t know if we’d have anything for him on the restart with 25 to go. I had saved just enough to have something left at the end.”
Nemechek came up just a bit short of victory at Five Flags.
“Bubba had a little bit better car there at the end,” said Nemechek. “We were just trying some different stuff tonight trying to get ready for the Snowball (Derby) and try to win that at the end of the year. It’s all a learning experience. It’s good to finish second, but it’s better to finish a spot ahead. We’ll go back and think on it and see what we need to do to get that next spot.”
Pollard will now look for the Gulf Coast Weekend sweep on Saturday, when the Southern Super Series combines with the Miller Lite Series at Alabama’s Mobile International Speedway for the Mobile Lumber 125 presented by VDL Fuel Systems.
“It’s going to be tough to win again tomorrow night,” added Pollard. “We’ve just got to get over there, get it prepared and see what we can do.”
Donnie Wilson overcame an early-race tangle with Johanna Long to finish third Friday night. Augie Grill finished fourth, and Bowen wound up fifth.